In his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton writes, “If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must always be painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.”
He was referring to the need for progressivism in order to preserve orthodoxy in the Church. While one might think that we need to keep things just the same to preserve the integrity of the Church, he points out that the only way to preserve the Church is to renew the Church. To preserve the white post, you must paint over the white post. Otherwise, it turns black and rots due to the torrents of change. He says this is true for all human institutions.
It’s powerful to meditate upon what God wishes us to preserve in Christianity, and how we must evolve in order to preserve it. This can be true at the parish level, at the denominational level, and at the level of our worldwide Christianity. [How ironic that when I searched Google Images for a free image of “church painting” or “paint churches,” I could find no pictures of people applying fresh coats of paint to churches to renew them. Instead, they were all artistic renderings of churches–ways of memorializing the past as opposed to renewing for the future.]
At my church’s recent annual meeting, we named our new crop of leaders, some long-term members and some relatively new ones; it is one of the ways we renew the church. Our church is updating our web site–a coat of fresh paint that is needed every few years. We noticed that our children’s classrooms were covered with years of fingerprints, and we finally painted those rooms. Our strategic plan is a plan for renewal as well. What needs a coat of fresh paint in your life and in your church?